The AP Stylebook – the journalism Bible by most English-language media across the world – has updated it’s guidance for using the word ‘riot,’ saying journalists need to be sensitive towards them.
Citing the need to avoid “stigmatizing” groups protesting “for racial justice”, the guidance has come after rioters across the world feel their feelings have been ‘violated’ through the use of the word and being called so takes away the root meaning of why they are out on the streets to begin with.
While acknowledging the dictionary definition of riot as a “wild or violent disturbance of the peace,” AP said the word somehow “suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium.”
Worse yet, “Focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice…” the Stylebook account tweeted on Wednesday.
New guidance on AP Stylebook Online:
Use care in deciding which term best applies:
A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium. (1/5)
— APStylebook (@APStylebook) September 30, 2020
AP Stylebook asked journalists to consider other words for ‘riot’ such as “protest” or “demonstration.” It advises “revolt” and “uprising” if the violence is directed “against powerful groups or governing systems.
So in essence, if the rioters inact violence against the government then this is morally okay and should not be considered a ‘riot.’
There is even a helpful suggestion to use “unrest” because it’s “a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt.
Critics of the tweet have called AP Stylebook ‘Orwellian’ in reference to the movie 1984 of a Distopian society.
One Tweeter said: ‘This is what is happening all over Democratic cities all over the USA. You could have stopped it right there and not added the BS tweets after.’
Jasnotron replied: ‘The AP is declaring it can no longer be trusted as a reliable news source. Bye.’
Dozens of people have been killed after the George Floyd killing by Minneapolis police where protests and riots have erupted into full-on violence across not only cities in America, but in Europe also.
AP is no stranger to changing the language to better comport to ‘proper’ political sensitivities. At the height of the riots in June, the Stylebook decided to capitalize “Black” and “Indigenous” in a “racial, ethnic or cultural sense.”
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, as its full name goes, has effectively dictated the tone of English-language outlets around the world since it first appeared in 1953. It is also required reference material in journalism schools
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